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Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Ars Nova” provisionally marks its end

Contemporary classical music fans should not miss the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s upcoming “Ars Nova” concerts in October as this year’s edition could be the last season of the 13-year-long music series.

In a statement released Monday, the SPO announced that it would not hold the “Ars Nova Series” in 2019, largely due to the current absence of experts who are capable of leading the series at the orchestra.

The Seoul-based orchestra is in the process of filling its new music director, artistic adviser and composer-in-residence vacancies, after the departures of conductor Chung Myung-whun in 2016 and composer Chin Un-suk early this year. 

Violist Tabea Zimmermann (SPO)
Violist Tabea Zimmermann (SPO)
A photo taken during one of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Ars Nova” concerts in 2017 (SPO)
A photo taken during one of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra’s “Ars Nova” concerts in 2017 (SPO)

“It is uncertain whether the orchestra will revive the contemporary music series at the moment,” the orchestra’s officials said. “Incoming directors may decide to continue the program but they may not as well.”

“Ars Nova” is the SPO’s contemporary music series dedicated to making relatively unheard compositions relatable to the audience in Korea. Founded in 2006 by the orchestra’s former composer-in-residence Chin Un-suk, Ars Nova has been introducing various programs, ranging from pieces of modern classical music to cutting-edge contemporary compositions, as well as those of Korean composers.

Instead of “Ars Nova,” the SPO has created the Nova & Antiqua series slated for next year, which will include modern and contemporary compositions.

“The SPO -- as a public music institution -- will continue to seek measures to introduce modern and contemporary compositions to the audience here,” it said.

The upcoming “Ars Nova” concerts will be held on Oct. 19 and 26 at Seoul Arts Center. German conductor Roland Kluttig will lead both concerts.

The first concert on Oct. 19 will feature chamber music pieces. The program includes the Korean premiere of Franco Donatoni’s Arpege for ensemble, the Asian premiere of Friedrich Goldmann’s Fast erstarrte Unruhe 3 for ensemble, George Enescu’s Chamber Symphony, the Asian premiere of Dieter Ammann’s “Le reseau des reprises” and the world premiere of Kim Ji-hyang’s “kindertotenlieder” for 14 players.

Composer Kim’s work – a contemporary composition that has borrowed elements from Mahler’s work of the same title -- is commissioned by the SPO.

For the second concert on Oct. 26, the SPO will introduce symphonic works such as the 1949 version of Schonberg’s The Five Pieces for Orchestra Op. 16 and York Holler’s Viola Concerto, in which acclaimed German violist Tabea Zimmermann will feature.

Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Gesang der Ju” and Marc-Andre Dalbavie’s “Concertate il suono” will have their Korean and Asian premieres, respectively.

Both concerts will be accompanied by pre-concert talks.

By Shim Woo-hyun (